21 Facts About Auslan


Auslan is the majority sign language of the Australian Deaf community.

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The term Auslan is a portmanteau of "Australian Sign Language", coined by Trevor Johnston in the 1980s, although the language itself is much older.

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Auslan is related to British Sign Language and New Zealand Sign Language ; the three have descended from the same parent language, and together comprise the BANZSL language family.

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Auslan has been influenced by Irish Sign Language and more recently has borrowed signs from American Sign Language.

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Auslan was recognised by the Australian government as a "community language other than English" and the preferred language of the Deaf community in policy statements in 1987 and 1991.

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In 1982, the registration of the first sign language interpreters by NAATI, a newly established regulatory body for interpreting and translating, accorded a sense of legitimacy to Auslan, furthered by the publishing of the first dictionary of Auslan in 1989.

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Auslan evolved from sign language varieties brought to Australia during the nineteenth century from Britain and Ireland.

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Auslan had been to a Deaf school there, and was known as a good storyteller in sign language.

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In more recent times, Auslan has seen a significant amount of lexical borrowing from American Sign Language, especially in signs for technical terms.

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Previously, Auslan had been said to be an OSV, but more recent scholars have said that this idea is a false-equivalent of Auslan with spoken languages and that using anchor signs is not the same as word order.

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In general, word order in Auslan takes into account context and fluidity between signs being used, being less rigid than many spoken languages.

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Auslan is a zero-copula language, which means that the verb to be is not used at all except when quoting English.

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Auslan replaces copula with interrogratives for certain phrase types, sometimes in this context called "rhetorical questions" or "modifiers", using non-manual features to express that it is a statement rather than a question.

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The interrogratives of Auslan are more or less direct translations to English ones, with WHY used for this purpose sometimes translated as BECAUSE.

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Auslan is a natural language distinct from spoken or written English.

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Regardless of their background, many Deaf adults consider Auslan to be their first or primary language, and see themselves as users of English as a second language.

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Auslan was introduced to Papua New Guinea, where it mixed with local or home sign and Tok Pisin to produce Papua New Guinean Sign Language.

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Sign languages related to Auslan appear to be used in some other parts of the Asia-Pacific, such as in Fiji.

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Linguists often regard Auslan as having two major dialects - Northern, and Southern.

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Auslan has no widely used written form; in the past transcribing Auslan was largely an academic exercise.

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The first Auslan dictionaries used either photographs or drawings with motion arrows to describe signs; more recently, technology has made possible the use of short video clips on CD-ROM or online dictionaries.

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